Disaster Response, FEMA, and the DoD: A Relationship in Progress

RAND has published a new report, titled Improving DoD Support to FEMA’s All-Hazards Plans, which discusses the relationship between the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) with regards to disaster response in the United States. 

Currently, the DoD does not play a front-line role in disaster response, but instead serves as a “resource of last resort”, employed only when state and other federal assets are inadequate or exhausted. To that end, the report’s major objective was to determine methods by which the DoD can provide improved support to FEMA. This objective was achieved using the following three approaches to research: 1) Analyze FEMA plans and DoD policies for Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA); 2) Analyze how DoD provides DSCA support to FEMA; and 3) Develop recommendations for how DoD can improve its support to FEMA, specifically with regard to planning, coordination, and providing requested capabilities.

The recommendations of the report hinge on a simple principle: communication, along with understanding potential requirements, is the key to success for the DoD/FEMA relationship, and the key to implementing efficient and sufficient resources during disaster response. While the relationship and response capabilities have been improved in recent years (given the creation of PPD-8 [Presidential Policy Directive-8] and the presence of defense coordinating elements and defense coordinating officers [DCE/DCO] in FEMA regional offices), there is still significant room for growth and progress.

Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/disaster-response-fema-and-the-dod-a-relationship-in-progress